To preserve democracy and ensure unbiased political administration, a growing number of nations have chosen to maintain a separation of church and state. And while there are some arenas in which the boundaries of such separation have a tendency to overlap, perhaps none is more rife with the secular argument than our schools.
While no religion should be enforced upon a school's students, efforts to remove religion's influence in schools can nullify the moral guidance such teachings often provide. As L. Ron Hubbard commented, "People and even little kids in schools have gotten the idea that high moral standards are a thing of the past," which in turn, brought him to the pivotal question: "What if one were to put out a non-religious moral code? One that appealed to the public. One that would be popular and could be kept. One that would increase the survival potential of the individual amongst his fellows. And one the general public itself would pass on."
Thus he wrote The Way to Happiness — not a religious work, but a means to fill the void left by the lack of moral guidance. It promotes no religion or faith; rather it helps one decide for himself the manner in which he lives, especially during times of moral dilemma.
In the United States, where The Way to Happiness was initially published in 1981, programmes based on the book have reached 12 million students in more than 12,000 schools. An independent study found that 85 percent of teachers with classes participating noticed a positive change in their students' understanding of moral values, while 90 percent noticed a positive change in their students' attitudes.
As a school principal noted, "We have decreased the violence by 70 to 80 percent over the school year. We have decreased disrespectful attitudes toward teachers, decreased vulgar language and gestures....
"Kids are now more apt to sit down, calm down, think about what to do and set a good example. It is not 100 percent," she summarised, "but it is 100 percent improvement."